My First Half Marathon

On Sunday I completed my first half marathon! In fact, besides a 5K I ran in college, this was my first ever race, period!

The Goal

I’ve wanted to run a race of any distance ever since my older sister completed a marathon in 2006. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and knew if she could do it, so could I.

It only took me 13 years to get around to completing this goal. HA!

But like anything, I like to think about the journey that got me here. In 2006, I was a college athlete, and although I was probably in the best shape of my life, running a race was something I would do in the future, not right away. In the years following, I went through a tough breakup that shook my life in a way I only realized once I got on the other side of it. I was incredibly unhealthy and the last thing on my mind was completing a silly goal that I had once set.

After college, I just wanted to get away from my hometown. I went through years and years of soul-searching, none of it with any true intention. I think this is just what your twenties are – a decade of just trying to figure it out.

It wasn’t until after Reese was born that I decided to start looking back on all these goals that I had set for myself that I had made excuses for and never completed.

Some of these include:

  • Start my own business
  • Pay off my student loans
  • Run a race

The Mindset

I’ve touched on this before, but having Reese truly gave me a sense of strength that I didn’t know I had before. I don’t want to let my children or my husband down. I want to provide a great life for them, and I want to show them what hard work looks like.

Early in my journey of personal development I read something that essentially said that if you break a promise to yourself, you might as well break promises to everyone else in your life, too. (They said it much more eloquently and effectively, but the message is the same). YOU should be your priority, because if your cup is full, then you can fill up everyone around you.

So I wrote down my goals and on it was to run a marathon.

The Leadup

I started looking up races in the spring. Initially I wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon and even went as far as finding a team to sponsor me. It became clear pretty early on that training and running a full marathon was just not going to happen while Reese was still breastfeeding. The time alone it would take for me to train would not work out logistically.

At first, I let this be my excuse. But in August, I decided to start jogging again – the first time in 18 months that I had actually run. I remembered how much I loved it and I started searching for races again. I found the Charlottesville Fall Classic Half Marathon and 10K and put it on my calendar.

Training was going great, until the longer runs started getting interrupted for one reason or another. Once again, I was going to let this be an excuse. Throughout training I only ran 6.5 miles at one time. I figured that I’d just run the 10K (not that it’s just a 10K, but it wasn’t the goal I had set out to complete.)

On the Friday before the race, I went to register and it was as it my brain would not let me forget the promise I had made to myself. I had set out to run the half marathon, so that’s what I signed up to do.

The Race

I was extremely nervous the morning of the race, but I kept telling myself that I was prepared mentally. I wasn’t racing anyone except the own doubt in my head.

As I started running I was beating my splits that I had set in training and I decided to slow down a bit, simply to sustain the energy I had. The first five miles felt great! At mile 6 I realized I was now surpassing my longest run EVER. And then at mile 7, the leaders of the race started looping back and passing me. I started to feel defeated, but quickly reminded myself of my goal – just finish. I had to push my competitiveness aside.

At mile 8 I saw my family! My husband, my kids, my sister and niece and brother-in-law, my mom and my sister-in-law. It was the boost I needed. Those middle miles were mentally tough.

But it was the last two miles that were physically tough. I wanted to stop so badly but I never did. I knew if my legs stopped moving, they wouldn’t start again. I just kept telling myself to move forward. I had given birth to two babies, and that was much harder than this race.

The Reflection

A day after finishing, I’m extremely sore. I want to downplay my success and say, yeah, yeah people run half marathons every day but that’s not fair to what I actually accomplished! I ran the longest distance of my life within a year of giving birth to my second baby. While still breastfeeding! After having reason after reason to quit. I chose to do the hard thing, to overcome my own doubt. I truly believe that if your head is in it, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

So, I ask you… what’s your next goal that you’re going to accomplish? What are you doing today to get yourself closer to that goal?

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